On December 14th, the U.S. District Court for the Fifth Circuit in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which eliminated the tax penalty under the individual mandate. The district court sided with 20 Republican state attorneys general that argued since the individual mandate was eliminated, the entire law was invalidated. The ruling went further and also ruled that all of the consumer protections under the ACA were tied to the individual mandate and they were also unconstitutional. These include the prohibition against insurers charging patients more for pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parent’s plans until age 26, and removal of caps on coverage.
The judge in the case did not rule the law has to be enjoined immediately, however, it is unclear when the ruling would take effect. Sixteen Democratic state attorneys general and the District of Columbia filed a motion asking the court to clarify the impact of the ruling and confirm that the ACA “is still the law of the land.” Additionally, a series of appeals will most likely keep the ruling from being enacted anytime in the near future… thus:
- People can still enroll in ACA health plans in states with extended deadlines (without an extension, exchange enrollment ended on December 14th.);
- There is no impact on 2019 plans that people may have recently enrolled in. Immediately following the ruling, Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, stated the ruling “has no impact on current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan;”
- Employers still face IRS deadlines to file forms 1095-B and 1095-C. (1095-B and 1095-C forms must be delivered to individuals by March 4, 2019. The 1094 and 1095 B & C forms must be filed with the IRS by February 28th if filing paper and April 1st if filing electronically);
- The Employer Mandate is still in force, penalties have been and will continue to be assessed for failure to file these returns;
- With the Employer Mandate still in force, Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) should continue to follow the Employer Shared Responsibility Rules (ESR) to avoid a penalty. This means offering a plan that meets minimum value and affordability to at least 95% of your full time employees (defined as those working at least 30 or more hours per week).
The case will most likely make its way to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court before any definitive action can be considered.
Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permits a state to apply for a State Innovation Waiver to pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance while retaining the basic protections of the ACA. Recently several states have applied for waivers and have been approved. Among these is the State of Maine, which sought to reestablish the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association – MGARA (originally established in 2012 but later suspended in light of the ACA’s transitional reinsurance program which expired in 2016). Maine’s Section 1332 waiver to reestablish MGARA was approved by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. MGARA is a state instituted reinsurance program that automatically cedes high-risk enrollees with one of eight conditions (including various types of cancer, congestive heart failure, HIV and rheumatoid arthritis) and voluntary cedes other high-risk enrollees to the pool in an attempt to help stabilize individual medical premiums by about 9 percent each year beginning in 2019. The program is slated to initially run from January, 2019 through December, 2023. The Governor’s Office pushed to get the program up and running by January, 2019 in an attempt to substantially lower premiums in the individual market.
One of the funding sources supporting MGARA’s operations is a quarterly assessment due from each insured and self-insured plan that writes or otherwise provides medical insurance in Maine (other than federal or state government plans) beginning in 2019 at $4.00 per month for each covered person enrolled under each such policy or plan. Only federal and state employees are exempt from the assessment. The 2019 Quarterly Assessment will apply to policies and plans initiated or renewed on or after January 1, 2019, with the first assessment due on May 15, 2019, and 45 days from the end of each calendar quarter thereafter. Self-funded plans using a Third Party Administrator (TPA) will be assessed and reported through their TPA similar to other state assessments.
Diversified Group will collect and report the MGARA on behalf of our self-insured clients who have members residing in Maine.
On November 8, 2017, the IRS announced that, for the first time, it would begin enforcement of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (i.e., the assessment of tax penalties against large employers failing to provide affordable, minimum value health coverage to substantially all employees). The initiation of active enforcement efforts now comes as a surprise, as many anticipated that the IRS would not begin such efforts under the Trump administration.
Over the next few weeks, affected employers will receive an assessment letter to all employers the IRS believes owe ANY penalty under the ACA’s employer mandate. From guidance we have received, this could be due to:
- Anticipated and appropriately assessed tax
- Unanticipated, but appropriately assessed tax
- ACA reporting errors
Any employer anticipating they COULD be receiving an assessment should be on the lookout. If you receive an assessment letter, ACT QUICKLY.
Questions? Concerns? Call Us!
We’re here to help, please contact Carol Parda-Ziolko at (888) 322-2524 ext. 427 or by email.
We have received a number of inquiries this year as to whether Diversified Group will be providing ACA reporting services for 2016. We are pleased to announce that we are partnering with MZQ Consulting again this year! MZQ Consulting did an exceptional job filing the 2015 1094-C and 1095-C for so many of our self-funded employers.
Last year, employers were granted an extension by the IRS for filing the forms. The IRS has also gone on record stating they will be forgiving if the 2015 forms weren’t necessarily completed correctly or on time. This year, however, it is unlikely the IRS will be as forgiving if forms are not accurate or file on time.
If you struggled with the 1094-C and 1095-C reporting requirement last year, you may want to consider having us help this year.
Click to learn more about our ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Tracking and Reporting Services!
Interested? Contact Diversified Today!
If you are interested in taking advantage of this service or have any questions, please contact Carol Parda-Ziolko today at (888) 322-2524 ext. 427.